Ultraprocessed foods with ‘feel-good chemicals’ could be as addictive as cigarettes and drugs, study suggests
Could a craving for salty chips actually be a sign of addiction?
A new study from the University of Michigan suggests that could be the case.
Researchers reviewed 281 studies from 36 different countries, finding that 14% of adults and 12% of children showed signs of addiction to ultra-processed foods, according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS).
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Part of the reason that ultra-processed foods have addictive properties is that they deliver fats and carbs to the gut much faster than minimally processed foods, the researchers wrote.
These foods also contain flavor and texture additives that could make them more addictive.
"There is converging and consistent support for the validity and clinical relevance of ultra-processed food addiction," said lead researcher Ashley Gearhardt, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, in a press release announcing the study.
"By acknowledging that certain types of processed foods have the properties of addictive substances, we may be able to help improve global health."